How does fear take hold? When does it grab at you? Where can you feel its tug? Can you feel it altering your sensibilities? Hard to imagine a time when fear did not dominate our headlines and lives, but even in the hold of fear I can remember a more fearless me. Standing up and demanding regardless of outcome. That late twenty-something me who seemed to defy gravity. Just reaching for it. Of course I can also remember a timid me too. A frozen and quiet me, creeping around high school, falling into black holes. But this today me, who has built a solid foundation on steady outcomes, this one now wakes in the still-dark dawn and has to talk herself into calmness through deep breathing, just to return to the school building yet another day; this me is struggling. They want us to arm kids with heavy shit, barricade our classroom doors, and teach them to strategize their way to safety despite the AK-15 aimed in their direction. Fear has entered the curriculum, but I suppose, as long as the NRA controls our lawmakers, I need to find my bravery.
As always I move through metaphor: As Without So Within. What’s my first step? Strap on downhill skis (first time in a decade) and send myself straight down the mountain. Well, after heading up first.
This week, in small towns and big cities, from coast to coast and border to border, students walked out of their school building with one common message: enough is enough. Witness our next generation of voters. They’re organized. On the move. Asking the tough questions to legislators and senators and even our president about gun control and school safety and what they’re going to do to return to civility. They’re ready to tackle the hard stuff. And these high school students will be registered voters in 2020, remembering who listened to their pleas, who is looking after them.
When I was in high school there was a smoking room in my boarding-school dorm. Back then people smoked everywhere. Doctors smoked in their office. The dentist smoked between drilling and filling. Adults smoked in living rooms and cars, even while reading nite-nite books to their toddler. Every restaurant, tavern, and airplane accommodated smokers. Yet now, there are whole cites that have banned smoking in all public areas. Why? Because of the simple fact that tobacco smoke, even second-hand, kills you. Yes, that’s a real fact. So how did this highly-funded-lying-lobbying industry lose its voice? “The lobby began to lose power as the industry lost credibility, Brandt said” (Keck). In hindsight change from the false to the true seems simple enough, even a lie with sex-appeal and allure, once we stop believing in it.